If you’re still looking for ways to celebrate Teen Tech Week, consider a “Judge a Book by its Cover” contest. For the contest, teens redesign covers of their favorite books. At my library, we give winners a brand new copy of their book with their remixed cover.
Libraries looking for ways to harness the DIY ethic for Teen Tech Week can run this contest by eschewing pencils and paper. Photography, digital cartooning, 3D modeling, desktop publishing— not only are a wide range of tools available, but often teens are itching for a chance to play with them. Contests like this always get more traction if you can work together with a teacher or school. If the teens can get extra credit by working in their school computer lab or design class, so much the better. However, if access to those expensive Creative Suite programs isn’t that easy, there are excellent alternatives that are open source and library-friendly.
- GIMP (http://www.gimp.org/) is my favorite photo-editing software. It does nearly everything Photoshop does, and doesn’t carry the hefty price tag.
- Cover layouts can be done with Scribus (http://www.scribus.net), a neat little desktop publishing tool that can export to convenient formats.
- Lifehacker released a list (http://lifehacker.com/5976725/build-your-own-adobe-creative-suite-with-free-and-cheap-software) last year of affordable tools that can stand in for the various parts of Adobe Creative Suite, and their top two happens to be GIMP and Scribus.
Before deciding on which tools to use, you should first identify the outcomes you want to achieve. Is your goal to help teens master a particular piece of software or hardware? To help teens gain knowledge about careers in graphic design? To offer teens a creative outlet and a chance to express themselves? Once you nail that down, the rest of the planning can fall into place. For help planning your event, download YALSA’s free Teen Tech Week Planning Form.
If you aren’t comfortable working with these tools, have no fear! You can identify a teen who is and provide him/her with the opportunity to lead a how-to session for teens interested in participating the contest. You might also consider tapping a local tech store, graphic design company or college that offers this type of course work.
This contest also offers plenty of added opportunities to teach a range of digital skills. For example, maybe interested teens can go as far as to use scanners, printers, and traditional DIY methods to literally make their own covers, rather than just submit a prototype. Better yet, they can find ways to show off their creations beyond a physical display in the library; a smartphone, some basic movie editing software, and a creative Teen Advisory Board can promote the results online, like the video we did to announce our results (http://youtu.be/yiNLjCehzN0).
Don’t forget to think about how you’ll measure success—what’s the best way to determine if the teens who participated met those outcomes and how will you share that out? For tips to help with that, mark your calendar to attend a free Teen Tech Week webinar on this very topic on March 12th.
If done thoughtfully, a contest like this can impart Teen Tech Week’s message by adding new tools to the library computers, publicizing the library’s digital offerings, and encouraging patrons to create and share content.
Submitted by Justin Azevedo, Youth Engagement Task Force